Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Not wanting to make a mountain out of a molehill [or anything] I still find myself coming back to Flip's comments--possibly because we constantly talk past each other, or, at least, I always talk past him. Whether or not I am indeed returning "like a dog to his vomit" [ah, the language of the New Testament!], he always makes me think. He wrote:

1) Self-restraint in my comment means not unilaterally ending my marriage before exploring all avenues for keeping us together--something that is still going on.

I think we are on safe ground here, although my self-restraint involved a little more rope: not acting on temptation, and when I was on the road, temptation was constant. I only came close to falling off the wagon once, but my heart had not only fallen off the wagon repeatedly, but wallowed in the mire and come up smiling.

I maintained the distinction, despite the Naz's stricture that the thought makes you as guilty before Him as the deed, that it made a difference whether I was guilty [the thought sufficed] or whether I made other people suffer [doing the deed, as we say]. That was my touch-stone for staying on the wagon all those years. That, and being "risk-averse" by nature, as Paul also claims to be. I believe I have posted somewhere that "Risk-Averse" is my middle name...

2) Regarding "acting out" (aka committing adultery): You ask the question, "What self are we being true to here?" When I, Flip, commit adultery I am being true to the selfish self.

For me, this question came down to this: should I be true to the "inborn," "hard-wired" self, or to the self that had turned away from it, denied itself, so to speak, even before it involved a vow made to another soul in front of assembled loving hearts? It is easy to say that I gave in to social conditioning, but believe me, having turned back, that would have been anything but the easy road. It becomes difficult for me to discuss this with people who are just coming out, when I was out and went back "in." Our frames of reference are so unlike each other, and our reasons sometimes seem to cancel each other out.

I suppose in a way marriage was a way to set a seal on the decision I had made five years earlier. But it was anything but the "path of least resistance." In fact, when I was wooing Isis, I had to tell her that while I had indeed felt passion deep enough to move me to tears of longing, the tears I shed were for another man. That was not a "nice" moment. But then, I have never been one for "nice," or been very good at it, either.

I have since met a lot of incomprehension about my choice. You would think, given the incredulous stares, that no one had ever heard of people taking on celibacy [which I did until I married]--that there were no Catholic priests in the world, or monks or nuns from any religious tradition. I am only too happy to admit that it is a tad unusual for someone to make such a "vow" outside religious orders, but I was only doing what practically everybody did before technology made it possible to separate sex from fertility. It may not be anyone else's choice today, or have even been likely 35 years ago, but it seems a lot less peculiar than sex-change, which we now accept with few if any batted eyelids. Well, I guess it all depends on your perspective...

In your "
About Me" profile you say, "Once you give up on the idea of black and white rules, how do you know what's right and what's wrong? You don't. You can't." I'm assuming you mean this within the strict moral structure that is Troll's. But without that assumption I am left with the impression that you might be just another garden-variety acter-outer trying to self-justify his selfish behavior.

What I mean in my profile is that any profound confrontation with the gospel clearly shows that "right" and "wrong" are not black and white categories: the question is when something is right. The Naz goes so far as to blast the fig tree because it fails to recognize his presence by bearing fruit out of season--think about that one for a while. God clearly tells the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites, even though he has just given the commandment "Thou shalt not kill." Mary accepts her child, and Joseph accepts his bride, although all the law points in the other direction. There is no law set to which God is not free to create exceptions.

I am that odd creature, the person who took his vows so seriously that he left his marriage rather than break them. So I am well aware that my position has more to do with my own need to live with an unsullied image of myself than with anything else--a position that has taken a serious drubbing since I set out on uncharted seas in my little leather boat...

People have stayed in dead marriages and their souls have died from the gangrene that set in; people have betrayed true love for the whim of the moment and dealt love a death blow from which it can never recover. Which is worse? There is no way of knowing. You can only work out your own salvation in fear and trembling--anyone who tells you different is selling you a bill of goods that has nothing whatsoever to do with the gospels, or even the Old Testament.

Regardless, this adulterer knows that when I hurt other people, it is wrong. "Acting out" hurts my wife (whether or not she is aware of it) therefore it is easily categorized as "wrong."


3) Regarding an authentic life: I don't know where to start. Authentic meaning what? 100% honest? 100% true to one's self?
I am much more honest with myself and those around me right now. I am living a more honest life, but is it more authentic than the life I lived 5 or 10 years ago? I can't honestly answer "yes" to that question. I was living as authentically as I knew how to back then, given the situation I was in and the level of maturity I had acheived.

I return to what I said to Sean two years ago:

The voice of GOD can call you out of the church just as much as it can call you out of Egypt. There is no safety in rules imposed by others; you must do the best you can according to conscience, and conscience, we are told, still falls short of the truth of GOD. We are called to live in freedom, and that is a terrifying thing: much of what we do will inevitably look like, and be labeled, "sin" by those who think they have life, and GOD, for that matter, neatly figured out once and for all.

Can they be so blind as not to see that GOD is continually creating things that have never existed before? that out of every life of body and soul a spirit goes forth that can change the world? That a new hour may call us to a new life we cannot even comprehend?

I would have given my eye teeth to have been able to stay with Isis. But I could not live "in grace and truth" and do so; I can only pray that grace may in time be added to the truth--and I would say that the Goat's presence in my life is ample proof that GOD sends grace where and when and how HE feels appropriate. The reason that it is called "grace" and not "desert" is that we do not deserve it and cannot earn it; it is freely given.

Perhaps this will further muddy the water.

That almost goes without saying--so, doubtless, will my response. I am not arguing for infidelity; you don't have to go far through my early posts to see that. But I am arguing for fidelity for the right reasons: I might even go so far as to say that nothing that is undertaken for solely negative reasons is right. [I might not, I have to think about that one...] And I am arguing that you stand, with your conscience, before GOD all your life long.

Judgment Day is NOW as much as the resurrection and the life [John 11: 17-27]. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats [my favorite, as some of you may remember] both the sheep and the goats are mystified by their classification. What else can this mean but that in the eyes of GOD, all things are different? [Matthew 25: 31-46] And if we seek to walk in the ways of His Word, how can we hope to follow human wisdom?

We can't. That's what the profile tries to say, without the citations. The "freedom of the glory of the children of GOD" is not an easy thing. And neither is patience...

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [Romans 8: 18-25]

We all hope for what we cannot see; let us learn to wait for it with patience.
Bless you all, and those like Flip who struggle to do the right thing, first and foremost. Your way is not easy.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Troll,

    Why do I keep tsummoning the tsunami?

    I am a slow thinking (slow-witted?) southern boy (with neither the accent nor appeal of my dear blog-friend Brad).

    You make my head spin (I mean that very chastely).

    Speaking of which, if you are reading my blog you may have caught the hint that chastity has become a very familiar companion of mine in the last few months. It and I are still trying to figure each other out.